Newton County School System was selected as one of the 25 school systems in the United States to receive a highly competitive 2009 HP Innovations in Education grant. Targeted at school systems serving students in grades six through 12, the grant program is designed to help educators address the need for raising student achievement in math and science and increase student awareness in high-tech college and career opportunities.
Newton High School will receive an HP Innovations in Education award package of HP technology, cash and professional services valued at more than $265,000. Technologies such as wireless HP tablet PCs, wide-format HP DesignJet printers, high-power mobile workstations, mini-notebook PCs and HP graphing calculators, will be used in innovative ways to fundamentally redesign the student learning experience.
The grant will fund technology and professional development for a team of administrators and Newton High School science teachers who worked with Dr. Kathy Garber, Newton County Grants Coordinator, to develop the winning proposal, “Newton High School Green SWEEP (Sustainable Wetlands Environmental Emphasis Program).” The project’s leadership team is composed of NHS staff, including Dr. Roderick Sams, Principal; Dr. Carl Skinner, Assistant Principal for Curriculum and Instruction; and teachers Nilesh Patel, Kia James, Jamie Summerour, Lisa Oswald, Shelbie Dixon, David Alexander, Millicent Drane and Robert Lukat. Kathy Reese, Director of Secondary Education and Gary Shattuck, Director of Technology, serve as district level representatives on the leadership team.
According to Garber, the NHS Green SWEEP project will bring all disciplines of science together to divert run-off away from both the school’s baseball field and an open area near the agriculture department’s livestock barn to create a sustainable wetland that will be monitored, protected and used as an outdoor learning lab in future years by students of NHS. With teacher guidance, science students will design and construct the new wetland, improve the environment and provide a permanent field classroom where students can become proficient in field observation and data recording techniques. In addition, students will also expand the school’s recycling program by building compost sheds to recycle plant and animal waste into a natural fertilizer for wetland and horticulture department plants.
Newton High School is located on 51 acres bordered by the Yellow River, and as part of protecting their environment; students will participate in the annual Adopt-a-Stream/Rovers Alive cleanup of the river. Through project-based learning and the use of HP advanced technology, students will develop the critical thinking, technological and analytical skills essential to today’s workplace. They will learn to work collaboratively with classmates, research topics related to environmental and other scientific issues, conduct experiments and analyze data in order to solve real-world problems.
“The HPIE Leadership Team is extremely excited about the possibilities that come with increased teacher and student access to advanced technology,” said Garber. “Not only will the technology be a tremendous aid to students as they work on the SWEEP project, but it will also be used daily for all science instruction. Students will take virtual field trips to places like rain forests and wetlands throughout the world and participate in virtual labs (e.g. dissections) on the laptops. Students will be better equipped to do long-term research projects, and teachers will have greater access to professional training and collaboration with others in the scientific and educational arenas.”
The portability of the HP technology makes it especially beneficial to science instruction. The various probes and sensors will be used for biological, physical and chemical analysis of soil, air and water. HP Mini-notes, graphing calculators and probes and sensors will provide the means for onsite documentation of students’ field studies as they measure pH, salinity and temperature. Students will be learning in the most effective way as they record data, take notes, make calculations and graph results right where science is happening – in the field.
This technology will also be used for thermal expansion; thermal conductivity and heat gain/heat loss labs, as well as time related experiments such as velocity, acceleration due to gravity, sound, force and energy. The HP Tablet PC’s and digital projectors will be used in all areas of science instruction, providing a tool for students to interact with other students and with their teachers as they solve problems and make formal and informal presentations. As students make notes or draw diagrams on the Tablets, they will be projected for other students to see and understand.
The more powerful HP Mobile Workstations will provide increased access to the Internet for research and software such as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, InspireData and AutoCAD Inventor for designing and presenting student projects. DyKnow software provided through the grant will allow for connectivity from every science classroom and computer labs, so that students can share their findings with other science students. Biology students might share their findings related to plants and animals supported by wetland habitats, while students in the physical sciences report results of soil porosity and pH tests, and measures of temperature, salinity and chemicals in the water. The virtual training room will provide both student and teacher access to speakers from business and industry on careers and on environmental topics from college partners and other organizations.
“The grant award from Hewlett Packard (HP) is just another example of the dedication and innovation of the teachers at Newton High School,” said Sams. “Our students will be experiencing real world applications through project-based learning and the advanced technology provided by HP. They will work more collaboratively to research environmental concerns and issues in order to better prepare them for tomorrow’s global workplace. Thank you to the grant leadership team at NHS and Dr. Garber for your extremely appreciated efforts.”
“The grant award from Hewlett Packard is deeply appreciated, not only for the technology and professional learning provided, but more importantly, for what it enables our teachers to do in increasing, relevant student learning experiences,” said Newton County School Superintendent, Dr. Steve Whatley. “The practical applications of science through technology to environmental issues at the Newton High School site, issues which relate to the county and our larger world, become important, practical yet skill filled learning to the students. We are proud of the efforts of our teachers and administrators in seeking innovation through the grant and its recognition of their potential for achievements.”
Worldwide, HP is investing more than $17 million in mobile technology, cash and professional development as part of the global 2009 HP Innovations in Education grant initiative. This initiative follows HP’s five-year, $60 million investment in HP Technology for Teaching grants to more than 1,000 schools and universities in 41 countries. During the past 20 years, HP has contributed more then $1 billion in cash and equipment to schools, universities, community organizations and other nonprofit organizations around the world.
“Innovation is key to expanding education opportunity – and HP is privileged to collaborate with educators around the world who are committed to exploring the exciting possibilities that exist at the intersection of teaching, learning and technology,” said Jim Vanides, Worldwide Program Manager for HP Global Social Investments. “Emerging evidence from the last five years is very positive – excellent instruction combined with the right technologies is measurably improving student academic success.”